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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

Die Engel alk bangen so,

lassen einander los:

noch nle war das Verlangen so,

so ungemss und gross.

Vielleicht, dass Etwas bald geschieht,

das du im Traum begreifst.

Gegrusstsei, meine Seek sieht:

du bist bereit und reifst.

Du bist tin grosses, hohes Tor,

und aufgehn mrst du bald.

Du, mines Liedes liebstes Ohr,

jet^tfuble ich: Mem Wort verier

sich in dir me im Wald.

So kam ich und vollendete

dir tausendeinen Traum.

Gott sah mich an; er blendete . . .

Du aber bist der Baum.

The key to the meaning - it does not leap to the eyes - is Rilke's
doctrine of the patient maturing of personality. 'Du bist bereit und
reifsf may be said to any human being in the growing stage, and
any virgin is the most fit symbol for what may pass into the great
gate of growth (the sexual image should not be taken as offensive).
The striking thing is the bold contrast between angel and Virgin.
The angel, too, is a beginning1 - of the new conception of the
nature of angels, but in that sense his growth is not within himself
but in the shaping mind of contemplative man, whereas the Virgin
is in herself organic growth. And she may bear the Messiah an-
nounced in Das Stundenbuch\ she is the Tree of fruit to be. Rilke is
very fond of 'tree' as an image for organic life springing from
roots deep in the soil into the kiss of air and wind and spreading
a majestic crown of leaves. And for Rilke ^ereitschaff is synonym-
ous with 'Empfangnis\ The Virgin then (any virgin) is the symbol
of maturity to bear, of fertility, while the angel is only the begin-
ning of the radiance which in the fullness of days will flow be-
tween the teeming dark deeps of earth which feed existence and
the dazzling golden glitter of Heaven.

Rilke's own full maturity is in the two volumes of Neue Gedicbte
1 Cf. Der Engel in New Gedichte.